Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Local photographer sues publisher over Sweet Potato Queens ebook.

Update: Suit says $150,000 per infringement. Assuming all twenty-one color-glossy photographs with a paragraph on the back of each one were used in the ebook, the requested damages are $3.15 million.

Rankin County photographer Suzi Altman sued Random House Publishing in October in U.S. District Court in Jackson, Mississippi for copyright violations.  She charged Random House used her photographs in a Sweet Potato Queens ebook without her permission or paying her compensation.

The suit alleges Ms. Altman shot twenty-one photographs of different Sweet Potato Queens and "food dishes" for the book authored by Jill Connor Browne.  It is not known if the photographs were glossy or had a paragraph on the back of each one. Ms. Altman copyrighted the photographs in May 2002. She claims she "licensed the use of the photographs to Random House" for use in a "printed edition of a book with a physical spine."  Ms. Altman also states she issued a license to the publisher to use the photographs in an audio book format as well.

However, technology apparently bumped heads with copyright law as Random House published an ebook with the photographs. Ms. Altman states she did not give permission to Random House to publish the photos in the ebook nor did the company pay for a license to use them in such a fashion. She argues since no contract to use them for an ebook was signed by the two parties as they did for the printed and audio versions of the book, the court should order Random House to compensate her for her work.  The lawsuit requests $150,000 in damages. Judge Keith Ball granted a request by Random House for more time to file an answer to the complaint.   Amazon and Barnes and Noble both offer electronic versions of the book. Ms. Altman refused to comment on the lawsuit.



KaptKangaroo said...

Lots of questions.

She licensed pictures for an "audio book." Huh?

Isn't there recent case law that equates e-books and hardcover books? Something to do with predatory pricing. Not sure if this has any relevance here.

Is there an agreement between Suzi and JCB? I noticed she is not mentioned anywhere in this suit.

Where is the original licensing contract and why is it not an exhibit?

Neither party is qualified to do business in MS, how is it that the venue is proper when both are qualified to do business in NY?

Finally, why sue, why not just get together with them and see if the contract could be amended?

Deferring to the courts is never good business judgement in my opinion.

Publishing started in 2003 or in 2002, or with an exact date being unknown. Huh? Notice on October 2003? Exhibits please.

This is going to be fun to watch.

ShadowPhotoFax said...

Bullshit! People steal the photos of other people every day. I have it happen all the time. I hope she wins. You're an idiot 4:49!

Anonymous said...

Peggy Lee nailed Disney for big bucks when they issued recordings she had sold them for LPs, which they then issued on cassette or CD decades later. Courts ruled the rights are nor automatically transferable to every new medium that get medium that gets invented - new contracts must be negotiated between artist and publisher (or maybe it was the VHS issue of films she appeared in, never agreeing to appear in the VHS medium. Sounds like something similar here.

And, 4:49, your ignorance of "audio books" is startling in someone who feels qualified to comment - iTunes has issued photos/artwork to go along with audio material as long as iTunes has been around.

KaptKangaroo said...

Oh yeah? Lulz.

KaptKangaroo said...

Audio is primarily a hearing exercise. Ah, I don't think you can "hear" a picture?

meople said...

Reminds me of "the help"

Anonymous said...


Who's to say she didn't try to get a settlement before suing?

And not including the original doc may be part of the strategy (I'm speaking from successful experience here).

That audio book has to come in a case. Maybe the case has her pics on it?

Going to the courts is usually the last resort, not a business plan, wouldn't you say?

But yeah, this will be fun to watch.

Kingfish said...

Hard to comment without knowing what the original comment says.

Shadowfax said...

No audio-book on this particular subject would ever sell without accompanying photographs. Seen a CD in the past fifteen years without photographs front and back and sometimes pages of them inside the case? Even record albums were sold largely based on cover-photo appeal. Well, not counting the Beatles' White Album. Imagine.

Anonymous said...

Am I the only one who doesn't understand the whole sweet potato queen cult? A few years back, I unwittlinly stumbled into some sort of sweet potato queen conclave in Hal & Mal's. It seemed like some sort of post-menopausal pep rally with women dressed in stupid costumes.

Anonymous said...

The pictures are displayed on the screen of an iPod (iPhone), and also as a DVD-A plays.

Ophelia said...

I've never seen the point/appeal of the idiotic cult, either, 6:05.
"Post-menopausal pep rally"---good one! Like the equally pathetic "Red Hat Society", it's just another way for formerly cute women, or even formerly ugly-but-young ones, to drag it out a bit longer. But hey, if Ms. Altman can grab a teat on this cash cow, I say milk it, girl!

Kingfish said...

Why knock her? If she copyrighted her work and her contracts did not give them permission to use it, then why shouldn't she be compensated?

As for the SPQ's, I have nothing for or against them. I see nothing wrong with some women, regardless of the age, dressing up and having some fun even if it includes the use of alcohol.

Kingfish said...

I meant "original contract" not "original comment"

KaptKangaroo said...

For Flounder, I use that nifty service called "downloading from the internet" - no need for CD cases.

KaptKangaroo said...

And, here you go, to stop the nit-picking. Yes, the audio book probably had a picture or two.

As to the case, what notice was given 2003? There is a claim that notice was given. Why not attach that too? Was there other notice? If not, why? If yes, why isn't that mentioned?

Just a lot of questions, but I figure, the purpose of the legal profession isn't necessarily to state the facts and render a decision, but to present them in a light that favors one's client and tell the story that best fits the facts. ;)

Anonymous said...

KK, I did the same thing when reading the post--She licensed pictures for an "audio book."--wait, what? haha

The venue question is a good one. Venue should be proper. Princpl place of business is NY. By bumping the damages to the $75k threshold, Luckett is trying to get it in a specific court.

KF: "If she copyrighted her work and her contracts did not give them permission to use it, then why shouldn't she be compensated?" I agree. If Random House intended to use the pictures in a form outsite of what is stated in the contract, they should have reached out to her and amended the contract.

Anonymous said...

I am personally looking forward to the SPQ-Jeff Goodytooshoes-Vaginafest parade this year. Good will be off his meds for the parade and is gonna sell his Sal and Dookies pizza at a price point that everyone to the west can actually afford. JCB has been on a diet and will have Jenny Craig as a sponsor (The Jenny 20!), and the wannabees are all going to have a post menopausal good time, talking about bio-equivalent hormones that they had compounded at Marty's the day prior. Oh the humanities. I think there will be 400 in attendance this year. What a joke.

Ophelia said...

Slow post-holiday season, if dreck like this silly lawsuit is getting this many comments. The SPQ nonsense was a flash in the pan, JCB profited handsomely (good for her!) but...I do think it's run its course, and has kind of deflated like a party balloon the morning after. Yawwnnnn.

Shadowfax said...

You're cute when irritated Kangaroot. Tits-in-a-flutter comes to mind.

Meanwhile, the woman deserves serious compensation if her work was used without contractually based agreement. Period. This is not about the Queens or their hormonal escapades.

Anonymous said...

um, I just wish that Jill Connor BrownE and her tired, saggy old ass would just GO AWAY! far away....

Anonymous said...

I must admit...enough already of JCB...she was fun at first, but have you ever had a personal conversation with this woman? Her language is so beyond filthy and then, she turns around and chants "it's for the chirrin..." it's nothing more than drawing more attention to herself...again, her mouth is so disgustingly filthy, I only HOPE she doesn't speak like this when and if she is around any "chirrin..." she really is just so "old news" maybe the time is near that she will retire and go home for the old saying goes "out with the OLD and in with the NEW"..just saying...

KaptKangaroo said...

Flounder, it is amazing to watch your rants over someone unconcerned about you in any capacity.

And you meaningless attempt at any significant comment again shows your shallow intellect.

Anonymous said...

Who is Flounder?

Shadowfax said...

The psychology at play here is interesting. I'm not sure why Kangaroot perceives me as a threat. To what I'm unsure.

Anonymous said...

Shallowfacts = Flounder

Anonymous said...

Just realized the amount of the damages requested is $3.6MM.


Anonymous said...


Read the article again: "The lawsuit requests $150,000 in damages."

Shadowfax said...

I may occasionally falter but I won't flounder.

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